Choosing the Appropriate Distance

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 14 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #2439

    I am posting because I’m trying to figure out what distance I should be running. I’ve been running almost one year straight now 30-40 miles a week, and it occurs to me I have no idea what event I’m really more suited to. Currently my focus is the 5k so I race over and under distance, but to be honest I dont have a basis for knowing whether I’m better suited to something shorter or longer.

    My original thought process is more lifetime miles makes for longer distances. I ran some in HS but I’m not sure even then that there was a strong basis for the distance I ran then.

    I was hoping someone here could suggest a time trial or some logical way for me to plan over the next couple of years what distances I should hone in on.

    Any advice you have is greatly appreciated,


  • #18388


    Really, finding your distance is a trial and error process that requires experience at a number of distances. While you probably could already get an idea based on the race distances you have run and your training, if you don’t already know, that probably means you either aren’t asking the right questions or you need more experience to know. As for the questions, they are pretty straightforward. What events are you best at now? What workouts do you find to be the easiest and do you enjoy the most?

    Also, remember that your training can direct your racing. At 30-40 miles per week, you are probably going to see a steep drop off in performance level once you get beyond the 5k-10k range, if not before you are even out of that range. If you were to bump that up to, say, 50-60 miles per week, it would help you in any distance running event but moreso in the 8k-10k and above events.

    Finally, you are right that lifetime miles help you in the longer distances. While current training of course also matters, there’s a reason that the best marathoners usually are those with 15-20 years of competitive running experience behind them and the best T&F athletes usually have less competitive experience.

  • #18389

    Welcome, Para! This is a really good site full of knowledgable, supportive runners. I consider myself to be an above average runner, yet I learn a lot by reading posts here – meaning I realize I still have a lot to learn.

    As for what distance is suitable for you, no one can answer that but you. I’d suggest some trial and error i.e. get out and run a variety of races of varying distances. 5K, 5M, 10k can all be done with very similar training. 10m, 20K and 1/2 marathon training can be accomplished with workouts very similar to the shorter distances, but can be enhanced with longer long runs and a bit more weekly mileage. As for the marathon, that requires a good solid base and probably more miles still. If you get a chance, look at things like Ryans Random Thoughts under Training on the left side of the Webpage and just experiment. It sounds like you have the two-three main ingredients to do well; the desire, the ability to ask questions, and the willingness to do the work (put in the miles). After that, it’s all just fine-tuning and working towards your goals. For me, that’s running for the rest of my life, and taking a serious stab at some fast times before my body starts to slow down. Good luck and welcome again!

  • #18390

    Thank you both for the insights. I guess I will use the times I run in the races I run this year and try to put them on a Daniels table. I dont know that I believe that if i enjoy an event its the right one for me necessarily. Right now I feel like around 2-3 miles I’m really striking a point I’m strong at but I strongly suspect that has more to do with my training. I’m still on base miles plus tempo work so without aerobic I really cant run below that. I dont know if I have the speed for quicker distance or not, but I guess at this age there aren’t as many track meets so 5k is pretty much the minimum. I do plan to run 1-2 races at the 2 mile distance this year locally. I think I’ll try to plot some of these times on Daniel’s VDOT table and see what that reveals at seasons end. Thanks.

    Have a good one,


  • #18391

    ParagonCD wrote:
    I dont know that I believe that if i enjoy an event its the right one for me necessarily.

    If you understood my statement to be that, I’m sorry. That’s not what I intended it to be. However, it is something to keep in mind. People tend to enjoy what they are best at, which means you will probably naturally enjoy the events that you are doing better at more than you will those which you are not so good at. This of course isn’t always the case. There’s something about the 10k that I just seem to hate but, when I’m in shape, it’s one of my better distances. I enjoy the 5k more but I don’t do as well at it. On the flip side, my favorite distances are the half marathon and the 8k. These also happen to be the distances that I seem to perform the best at, which I doubt is a complete coincidence.

  • #18392


    Ok that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. Yea i’ll like what I’m good at 😀 . -cd

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